Winter waterpipe freezing precaution

Hi,
We are going on a month's vacation and wanted to find out what is the best way to ensure our water pipes don't freeze while we are gone. I am thinking of 2 things: Keep the heat on (forced natural gas furnace central heat) at 50 F Shut-off water supply by shutting off the main water suply (this is located in the basement). I already tested this and when I shut it off, it shut off all faucets/taps in the house. House is in the suburbs of Chicago.
Reason I want to turn off main water supply is to make absolutely sure that the 50 F heat will be ok AND also if the furnace breaks down when or in case of power outage,when we are gone, pipes will not freeze.
What do you guys think? Any other safegaurds I should take?
Thanks a bunch.
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Shutting off the water main is a good idea. If you have a hot water heater, turn the gas valve to "pilot" so in the event the water heater leaks it will not fire up. Also turn off the automatic ice maker if you have one in your fridge. I would try to cover the incoming water feed pipes with pipe insulation, as well as the water meter if you have one just in case the heat fails. As an added measure, after you shut off your water main, you can open all the faucets and open the lowest faucet in the house and drain as much water out as possible. If you have a trusted neighbor, he/she can check on the house once in a while.
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wrote:

That won't take care of the water in the wheater.

Yes, good idea. The furnace can break and everything freeze. How often should the friend visit. I guess it depends on how cold, how many power failures, etc. but the furnace can break even if there is no power failure.
If you have a burglar alarm, you can put on a sensor for low temperature, and if you have monitoring, you can have it send a third notice to the station.
A friend gave me the impresion that new panels come with this, but it seems that they have a provision for connecting the sensor, and for the third message.
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reasonable moves. leave furnace set at 50, turn off water main, you might open faucets indoors to let the excess water drain.
one great thing is a freeze warn outlet.
you plug a light into a outlet thermostat. if it gets too cold it flashes the light, provided a nice neighbor would inform whoever you got a problem.
there are also auto call telephone devices that would call you automatically if it gets too cold.
have a trusted friend stop by and make some phone calls, some insurance policies dont cover a home vacant for over 30 days
have furnace serviced a few weeks before you go away.
ENJOY YOUR VACATION! hope its a nice warm place!
winter YUK!
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snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

Thanks! It will be a great time in the Seminole state.
You guys are all great! Excellent suggestions. Best wishes to all - God Bless!
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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

I wonder why water would freeze in a pipe running inside the house when furnace is set to minimum. When I go away, I just keep the pilot going for the water heater and that's all. If heater leaks I have floor drain right next to it. I never saw heater tank burst. Tony
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Inside it usually OK, but pipes in the wall, especially in older homes with poor insulation is a potential problem. Same with some basements where pipes are near outside wall and not heated.
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wrote:

Furnace might not work.

A friend had a new house built. in N. Va. They were there and the pipe burst anyway. Turns out pipe through kitchen to upstairs was in outside wall, and insulation was put on the wrong side of the pipe.
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On 14 Jan 2006 18:04:33 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

You got all the details correct except you got to DRAIN all those pipes, and put antifreeze on the toilet and in sink traps, etc. Can you get someone to check the house every few days? At least then you are sure the heat is working. Even if you drain all the pipes, if the heat quits, you will have plaster cracks, frozen cans of food, and who knows what else. Some SAFE electric heaters (AWAY FROM ALL FLAMMABLES) can also add heat if the furnace dies, but you almost need the thermostat type. Those space heaters are not accurate as far as temperatures. I really think your easiest solution is to just give a friend a key and some money for their time and gasoline, and have them check regularly. Give them the name of your furnace repair company just in case...
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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

I suggest that you don't want to have the heat turned all the way off, even if you empty the pipes, which is a good idea.
Many items in our homes can not handle very cold temperatures.
Turning the heat down can mean that the pipes near outside walls may go below freezing when it gets really cold outside. You also have to consider the possibility of a power failure. The question is how much perfection do you want. Draining pipes and using anti-freeze made for the use in the traps (including the toilet) may be prudent.
--
Joseph Meehan

Dia duit
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http://doityourself.com/energy/winterize.htm
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Another reason to turn off the water when going away:
I recently went away for a week, so I turned the forced air heat down to 45 and shut off the water. Upon returning, when I turned the water back on, I had a leak in one bathroom. It was where the plastic nut connects the supply line to the ball cock unit in the toilet. It appears to have been caused by the low temp and the nut wasn't quite tight enough. It had never leaked before at normal temps. Had the water not been off, this small but continuous leak could have been a real big problem.
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I once went on vacation, left on a friday returned the following thursday.
The very next friday the day after I got home from vacation my furnace quit. thermocouple failure.
temps at the time of my vacation were 10 degrees. if the furnace had quit a week earlier I would of been screwed.
one word of warning, be prepared for trouble if you drain the hot water tank, those drain valves are pure junk.
For my monbey I would turn the tank to vacation, which is pilot only and leave the tank full of water.
if you get back and the valve leaks it will need replaced, and messing with a old tank might lead to more leaks.
this happened to a friend of mine.
tanks are cheap, easier to replace in the unlikely event the furnace fails
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bit more than a month (Jan & Feb) and I shut off the main, turn off the hot water heater, open the hot/cold supply lines to the washing machine, open the lowest faucet and let the water drain out, at least as much as possible. Then I flush the toilets. Next, put RV Anti Freeze (Home Depot) in every drain---dishwasher, washing machine, sinks, shower, bathtub, toilet bowls. Set the thermostat to 60 deg.--used to set it at 55F. Somehow can't convince my wife that it's OK to set it a bit lower--not worth the argument. MLD
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Dryer etc. Computer, including the phone line if you're on dial-up or DSL. Power surges do strange things and most of the electronic equipment all have some power drain and are alive even though not actually turned on. MLD
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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

We only turn ours down to 55. I've been told that you shouldn't turn it down cooler than 55. I also just installed a new thermostat. It allows me to call and check the temperature using a phone. It wil let you turn the temperature up or down over the telephone too. This way you can have the place start warming up while you are heading home. It is really nice. You can see it at: http://www.thermostatshop.com/cem24-series.shtml They sell freeze alarms here that will call you if the temperature drops below a set temperature too. Well worth the investment for the peace of mind.
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